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11th Mar 2023

Northern Irish hotel Galgorm offers incredible dining and spa experiences

Stephen Porzio

Those planning a trip soon on the island of Ireland should consider this venue.

March has finally arrived and it won’t be long before St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Easter and the summer months, prime times for a holiday getaway. And if you find yourself looking to treat yourself while not venturing too far from home, may we recommend the Galgorm hotel and spa in Northern Ireland.

Located in Ballymena and just a 30-45 minute drive from Belfast, upon arriving at Galgorm, what strikes you first is its gorgeous surroundings, with the venue nestled within 380 acres of scenic green fields and forests. Adding to the beauty of the location is the River Maine, which flows through the resort – with pathways established alongside the river’s banks and waterfalls so that vacationers can enjoy it in all its majesty.

As I enter the hotel to check in, its interiors impress too. The venue’s wooden fixtures, leather armchairs and grand fireplaces further add to the cozy country feel, though the wide open spaces and bespoke artwork and designs on the walls and ceilings provide a fresh, modern edge. Like every staff member I encounter during my overnight stay, the receptionist checking me in is warm and friendly and within no time, I am in my room. The resort has 125 guestrooms on offer but I am given one of its deluxe king rooms (from £290 for two people), which proves to be very spacious, boasting a lounge area, a very comfortable king-size bed and a beautiful marble bathroom.

A Galgorm deluxe guestroom

It isn’t long before I decide to take advantage of Galgorm’s Thermal Spa Village, which is said to be the first of its kind in Ireland. I am treated to the Celtic Sauna Infusion (from £15 per person), one of the hotel’s many spa experiences. Greeted by a sauna master, I am led into a very big version of the hot rooms, with the master subsequently placing balls of ice and scented oils on the heating stones – which produces a plume of glorious aromatic steam. Almost immediately I feel any daily pressures or worries alleviate.

The Celtic Sauna Infusion

Just as the rising steam feels like it may become too intense, the sauna master provides a handful of ice for me to rub on my face and body, providing a welcome cool down. After the sauna, people have the option of enjoying a bracing dip in a freezing cold plunge pool or a more temperate shower, before being given an iced fruit drink for welcome hydration.

A Galgorm riverside tub

After the Celtic Sauna Infusion, I explore the Thermal Spa Village, which is vaster than I had first anticipated. I cannot stress this enough: holidayers really are spoiled for choice in terms of spa facilities on offer. There are hot tubs, riverside hot tubs, more saunas, steam rooms, scented steam rooms, indoor and outdoor heated pools, heated loungers to kick back and relax on and most uniquely, a snow cabin. Also within the village, there is a cocktail bar called The Palm House. After an afternoon of heating up and cooling down, I order the ‘Love from Galgorm’, the venue’s signature cocktail made up of Irish whiskey, St. Germain, lemon, apple, cucumber and sugar which proves to be fresh and sweet.

An indoor leisure pool

In the evening time, I venture into McKendry’s – a more traditional bar located in Galgorm – for one of the hotel’s whiskey evenings (£60 per person). Hosted by Hinch – a whiskey distillery and brand based in Down that was only started in 2020 – attendees at the event are first handed a refreshing apéritif cocktail, made up of Hinch’s Small Batch Bourbon Cask Whiskey, along with agave syrup, apple juice, lemon juice and London Essence’s White Peach and Jasmine Soda. Over the night then, we are also given drams of various Hinch spirits. These include the Hinch Small Batch Whiskey, the Hinch 5 Years Double Wood Whiskey, the Hinch 10 Years Sherry Finish Whiskey and lastly, the Hinch Peated Single Malt Whiskey.

Ranging from sweet to savory to smoky, every drink offered to guests at the evening is delicious – with each of the Hinch whiskeys served neat tasting remarkably unique to the others. Along with this, the spirits are paired brilliantly with three meals: a starter of Ham and Cheese Croquettes with Béarnaise Sauce, a main course of Beef Guinness Pie with Carrots and Champ and a desert of Bread and Butter Pudding. Keeping proceedings lively too is guest speaker Terry McCartan – the senior tour guide at Hinch Distllery – who in between meals and drinks regales those in attendance with fascinating tales regarding the history of Irish whiskey and how the popular spirit is made.

McKendry’s Bar

Even after the whiskey evening, the atmosphere in McKendry’s Bar remains bustling with live music on offer. I wrap up my stay with a night’s sleep in my comfy king bed and a tasty full Irish breakfast the next morning in Galgorm’s stylish Conservatory restaurant.

Galgorm is one of Northern Ireland’s most acclaimed hotels and having stayed there for a day, it is easy to see why. With its scenic grounds, excellent bars and restaurants, lovely staff but most importantly, its Thermal Village packed full of relaxing spa options, the venue is the perfect place to treat oneself and should definitely be considered if planning a getaway in the Emerald Isle. For more information, visit Galgorm’s website here.